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Calvin & Hobbes; ...Flying is too Safe; ...War Stories; ...Elements of Decision Making; ...Your Flying Decisions Are a Reflection of Your Other Lives; ..Training in Decision Making; ...Cockpit Resource Management; ...Stages of Decision Making:; ...Decision Making Related to Accidents; ...List for Avoiding Wrong Choices; ...The Situation; ...Viewing the Situation; ...Taking Charge; ...Controlling the Risks; ...Know When to Say NO!; ...The Go/no go Decision is Always Variable; ...Judging Judgment; ...Exercising Judgment; ...The Communicator; Survivor's Advice; Rule of Thumb; ...Panic Attack; ... Learning Decisiveness; Making the Unfamiliar, Familiar; Attitude Makes the Difference; Strategy Becomes Tactics; Opinions on Risk; ...Helping Your Thinking; ...The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Ideas; ...Pressure to Fly; Andrew On Weather Decisions; ...A Civil War Lesson in Making Decisions
The Best Maneuver
The one-hundred-eighty turn is on record as having saved more lives than governmental inertia have killed.
They are riding a wagon down a steep wooded hillside during the dialogue.
Calvin: "Ever notice how decisions make chain reactions?"
Hobbes: "How so?"
Calvin: "Well, each decision we make determines the range of choices we'll face next. Take this fork in the road for instance. Which way should we go? Arbitrarily I choose left. Now, as a direct result of that decision we're faces with another choice: should we jump this ledge or ride along the side of it? If we hadn't turned left at the fork, this new choice would never have come up."
Hobbes: "I note, with some dismay, you've chosen to jump the ledge."
Calvin: "Right. That decision will give us new choices."
Hobbes: "Like, should we bail out or die in the landing?"
Calvin: "Exactly. Our first decision created a chain reaction of decisions. Let's Jump." See? If you don't make each decision carefully, you never know where you'll end up. That's an important lesson we should learn sometime.
Hobbes: "I wish we could talk about these things without the visual aids.
by Bill Watterson
Flying Is Too Safe
The greatest difficulty I have with the following material is that in a pilot's lifetime none of the requirements for emergency decisions will ever happen. This is true, if my instruction limits your exposure to avoidable emergency situations. One type of accident is the one that occurs and defies explanation or reason. It should not have happened either to pilot or aircraft. The second type is the one that after it happens, everyone is amazed that it hadn't happened sooner given the attributes of the pilot and aircraft. Choosing not to fly when conditions are unfavorable is not a sign of fear but more likely a sign of good judgment.
Airplanes are so safe that by themselves they rarely create emergencies. Most pilots will never experience an aircraft created emergency. Far more likely will be the pilot created emergency. Statistically, you can expect to fly over 65,000 (that's thousand) hours before a serious injury accident. Making an inadequate preflight, flying into known adverse weather, running out of fuel and other pilot choices create emergencies. You will rarely have an opportunity to make the decisions required during an emergency. You will, the moment that you think of making a flight, have an opportunity to enter the decision making process that leads to an emergency or a safe flight. Any discussion of how to make a decision will never be the same as actually making it.
Flying in controlled airspace gives a pilot a shared responsibility and liability with ATC. The authority of being pilot-in-command can come in conflict with an ATC directive, clearance, or command. A pilot's authority to deviate from what ATC says is not without limits. Whenever what you have planned is different from what ATC has planned you have a conflict. Both the pilot and ATC should have alternatives when a conflict occurs. You have no way to knowing how an FAA hearing judge may decide.
A major shift in responsibility occurs when the pilot acknowledges that he has located and identified an aircraft or hazard pointed out by ATC. From that momentary acknowledgment onward, collision avoidance is totally a pilot responsibility. ATC may not give you any further assistance or warnings. Many times the controller will give further warnings but he doesn't have to. Aside: How can flying be too safe if the U.S. has an average of five aircraft accidents every day? It only takes the last wrong decision to make an accident. Hesitation is a major problem. Doing something is always better that just going for the ride.
Over the years I have made more than a few poor flying decisions. None of these have resulted in an accident or a major problem. However, after the flights I have had feelings to foreboding and discomfort. The concerns are not because of what happened but because of how easily the exposure could have resulted in catastrophe. Some of these flights occurred before I was an instructor but most of them occurred afterwards.
I had an occasion to fly some school administrators up the coast of Calif. to survey a school camping site for the children of our school district. This was to have been my first flight of over 200 miles with passengers and
into unfamiliar territory. I decided that I could make the flight more comfortably if I went there first by myself.
The exact date escapes me but the weather was forecast to be coastal fog with bases at 2500' all the way from the Bay Area up to Arcadia. Only a club C-150 was available so I scheduled, and planned. I was going to head for the Golden Gate and fly below the fog ceiling all the way to Eureka. By phone, I made arrangements to land at the private airport that was on one of the ship docks there. There were only four airports along the way. Not exactly an airport vicinity route.
The flight was successful in both directions. The ceilings held as forecast. Had they not held I could have become a CFIT accident because shortly after my flight a plane flying down the coast flew into Tomales Bay and into a plane eating hill rather than taking the way around by Point Reyes. If you arrive at Point Reyes and only look for the East side of Tomales Bay it is easy to miss the turn to Point Reyes. The FAA even put a VOR on a hill nearby which, depending on your OBS settings, can save you or kill you.
I have never flown so far, so low, with so few back-door options. I was only able to give FSS position reports by relay through other aircraft.
War Story #2
Just a couple of weeks ago I made a similar 200-mile flight to Southern California. Because GPS made the VFR flight so easy I decided to fly direct. Direct meant that I would fly over a fog deck the entire way The deck extended all the way from the ocean to at least ten miles south east of my route. All the terrain to my east and along my route was mountainous. The valley to the west had a reported ceiling of 800'.
At 5500' I had about 2000' of VFR below me. Below that the options were somewhere between slim and none. My invincibility was showing. The flight could have been flown just as easily down the west side of the
Central valley with the surface in sight, numerous visible airports, and too many options. The route back was made with the ground always in sight below. With light winds the flight time both was nearly the same.
War story #3
PIC: Eugene L. Whitt 1876572
9:00 a.m. to 10:35 a.m.
Tuesday July 22, 1997
I got my first briefing Monday afternoon about 5 p.m. Summarized, I was told that it was just as well I was waiting until Tuesday a.m. to make the trip from Las Vegas to Concord via Trona although he thought via Bishop would be better.
My second briefing was shortly after 7 a.m. I requested opportunity to visit FSS to view satellite pictures only to find that FSS was in Reno. I said that I planned to proceed via Trona and was told that that was the best way to go. The caveat was the sooner the better. The area was supposed to be overcast at 9000 with scattered to broken lower with improvement to the west. This forecast turned out quite different on our flight. Visibilities during the flight were generally in the 3 to 5 mile range but occasionally less than 3 making course deviations often necessary.
Along with hotel, eating, rental car and Las Vegas stop lights working and non-working, we did not get moving until 9 a.m. our previously planned departure time.
The departure from Las Vegas allowed us to proceed almost immediately on course to Trona. On our flight into Las Vegas two days previously I had recorded all radio frequencies for the route which had been flown at 9,500.
We were able to cross the first mountain ridge out of Las Vegas with ample cloud clearance but immediately afterwards the choices became more difficult. We could fly high with the chance of getting caught on top
or to descend and hope for the better weather forecast to the west. I chose the low road.
We were able to fly to Trona only by making several extended deviations north and south of our intended track in an effort to maintain the best flight visibility. For some of the route in and out of Shoshone we were
able to follow the east/west road.
We listened to Los Angeles Center for most of the flight to Shoshone and then began to listen to Joshua Approach. On the flight East we were told that communications would exist at least to 40 East of Trona. I tried repeatedly to contact Joshua Approach as we neared Trona and combined that with additional attempts to contact China Lake Tower. All these efforts were without success. Our intention was to get a clearance through China Lake airspace direct to Bakersfield. Even leaving Trona several attempts were made to make these contacts without success. The VOR at China Lake was apparently out of service. We never anticipated needing it so had not asked about NOTAMS. Due to the occasional rain, rarely heavy, we began to believe that we were experiencing radio failure due to moisture which was occasionally intruding into the cockpit. We proceeded to squawk NORDO on the transponder but in process neglected to turn it back on.
We proceeded south following the railroad until reaching the restricted area R2506 At this point we were forced by visibility problems to make several course deviations which made it very difficult to determine our exact position in relationship to the restricted area 2515 of Edwards AFB. Finally we proceeded over the Sierras direct to Bakersfield without trying to proceed via the planned route of Inyokern and Lake Isabella.
Any possible incursions into any Restricted areas were unintentional. We endeavored to maintain legal and safe flight visibility while working our way southwest below the Trona Corridor. When we were unable to get
back to Inyokern we climbed in good conditions toward Bakersfield. Our departure point for this climb was the raceway clearly shown on the sectional. Few other points in that area are so clearly defined.
Elements of Decision Making
Every situation offers several options. A better decision begins by asking yourself better questions. The better decision will not likely be perfect but a good question to yourself will keep it from being bad. Experienced pilots are able to give 'war-story' examples of how a decision worked or didn't work. Human retention is selective, proportional to use, presumed importance, and drama of implant. Pilots who do not fly often lose flight skills significantly and rapidly.
Inappropriate weather decisions are responsible for 80% of General Aviation Accidents. The culprits are pilots who steam ahead into marginal weather or into unfamiliar terrain without navigational capability. Only the Pilot in Command is responsible. Only the FAA has the power to second-guess all the decisions made en route to the accident. There is an endless series of decisions made as part of every flight. The PIC decision is final and responsible. The making of a decision is more a matter of self-discipline in the willingness to make safety the overriding factor not in just the last decision but in every decision leading up to the land decision. This requires courage on the part of the pilot to override all the pressures, desires, and needs that fly in the face of the safe decision. Only good judgment is more important than flying skill. Accident records are full of pilots who flew with a preconception of invulnerability.
Flying Decisions Are a Reflection of Your Other Lives
Every person and pilot has a number of innate sensitivities that influence every decision made. We do not like taking a loss of any degree or kind. When faced with a loss of our own making but beyond our control we avoid accountability and any other act causing remorse. When a situation derives from overconfidence that can be considered a ‘mistake’ our reaction is to find some way to transfer responsibility for the potential negative outcome. We like our ideas, original or otherwise. We will devise arguments to support our view. Our faith in a virtual reality will not let facts affect what we believe should be. In any event we will twist and turn what we do and what we say to find the easy way to a solution that justifies our take on what is happening and going to happen.
Though this may sound very much a political rehash of the Iraqi Freedom campaign, it is very much the baggage all of us carry into any risk taking situation. Remember flying consists of a an ongoing series of risk taking events but so does getting out of bed. The foregoing paragraph could easily be written into most any flight situation. Below I have written it into a pre-solo student’s difficulty in getting through the solo.
Training in Decision Making
--Developing a self-awareness of your attitudes which lead to the making the safe decision. "Will I look back from the future will I be satisfied I did my best?"
"Am I deceiving to myself?"
"Is a fantasy making things seem worse/better than they really are?"
--Learning to recognize, reduce, and control personal stress by knowing the causes and developing flight control accordingly.
"Is this choice what I really want and need to do?"
"What would I do if I weren't under stress?"
--Developing the knowledge, skill and experience required to make a considered flying risk assessment.
"What are the unanticipated consequences?"
"Do I have an option?"
--Using cockpit resource management to utilize checklists, manuals and systems to the best advantage.
"Do I know all my options?"
--Using others in and out of the cockpit as sources to make flying safer and more efficient.
"What would Lindbergh done in the same situation?"
"What would my best flying public think?"
--Replacing errors of omission that are doing nothing, with actions likely to mitigate the problem.
"What would my present worst enemy say?'
"What will the after effect be?"
--Avoiding errors of commission caused by doing something without anticipation of the effects.
"Does it feel "right' to do this?"
"What will immediate results be?"
"What will the delayed effects be?"
-- Avoiding mistakes of degree caused by reaction excess.
"Am I getting beyond my skill level of performance?"
"How am I going to feel afterwards?"
Even not doing anything is a decision. Over half of all accidents are the result of decisions that were not the best option. The more direct experience the pilot has had the better able he is able to select the best option. Experience lets the pilot compare the present with the past and make a decision accordingly. Most in flight emergencies can be avoided by decisions made before the flight. Training that limits its emergency procedures to major problems is quite likely to increase the probability of small problem errors.
Cockpit Resource Management
Having two pilots do not make flying safer unless the two have a team arrangement in which the duties and responsibility of the flight are shared and allocated prior to takeoff. As a team the pilots will work together and reinforce the required operational components.
One pilot should fly while the other works the radios. One pilot reads the checklist while the other performs. The not-flying pilot calls out altitudes while the flying pilot performs. On the missed procedure one flies while the other leans up the plane while calling out the essentials of the missed procedure.
Stages of Decision Making:
--Recognition that a decision is required
--Consider your options; evaluate the options
--Select which of the available options to use
--Decide if results are acceptable
--Willingness to make a new choice.
Decision-Making Related to Accidents
1. Desire to 'get it over' results in tunnel vision.
2. Desire to 'get away with it' by leaving the scene.
3. Instructional technique to give student picture of accident with options:
a. How to prevent the accident
b. Think outside the 'box to find choices
c. When in doubt make the safe choice.
4. Any 180-degree turn MUST be to a landing.
5. Reference 60-20
6. Always keep an out of at least two optionsl.
7. When there is only one option, it is not an option.
8. Poor aeronautical decision making (ADM) causes over half of all accidents.
List for Avoiding Wrong Choices
--We know about weather, flight route, aircraft and pilot.
--We don't know what we don't know. Guessing is not a good option.
--The what-ifs mix of the known and the unknown create uncertainty.
--Your options are alternatives for all the what-ifs.
--Alternatives create immediate results and after effects for each action.
Every situation requiring a decision is dynamic, it is changing for better or worse.
--Some situations are so undefined what the best solution or option is not delectable. Creative solutions are open to selection.
--Survival depends on what pilots do and what they have with them.
--Some situations require quick decisions. The correct decision made too late is the wrong decision.
--Any situation that allows pressures other than safety to dominate will breed wrong decisions.
--Situations that allow multiple viewpoints in decision selection are more likely to give the best decision.
--85% of accident occur on or near landing fields.
Pilot had entire single engine fall off. Before rest of plane became uncontrollable he pointed it straight down. Center of gravity was not a problem, now. He retained control effectiveness sufficient to level off and survive a crash at ground level. Mistakes in selection of options in emergencies have traumatic results. Away from airports survival is best with rescue in side of 24 hours.
Viewing the Situation
--The situation needing a decision must be first recognized as a change.
--Once recognized the situation must be categorized using one or more of the six types immediately above and study options.
--Expertise plus situational awareness give a 'big picture' perception. Screen the essential from the non-essentials.
--From the possible choices an option must be taken and action taken and observed as to whether the desired result is attained.
--Once an action is taken, contingencies and next options are anticipated. The 'what if' option must always be available as you inventory again your choices.
The levels of aircraft safety as in communication extends in steps from the passive, to the informational, to offering alternatives, to being critical, to expressed opposition and finally to open conflict. The poorly prepared student or pilot, is all too often, willing to let ATC or another cockpit person dominate. ATC and another pilot can and will make mistakes. The passive pilot acceptance of ATC clearances or another pilot's procedures means that he is just going for the ride. The passive approach of just following the rules and nothing should go wrong leaves you vulnerable to the mistakes of others.
The highest level of learning is that which you acquire from the mistakes of others. Read and learn about as many mistakes and accidents related to flying as you can. The information acquired from an old accident can be just as significant as a recent one. The more you learn about others' mistakes, the less likely you are to repeat those mistakes. There are nearly two hundred mistakes to learn from the sub-directory 'Lessons'. Experience can be measures very accurately by the number of mistakes made.
An emergency is created with the situation if not corrected will result in injury or damage. An urgent emergency will grow into a distress emergency if the situation degrades. Notification becomes important since you will get help sooner if rescuers know where to look.
Controlling the Risks
The relative safety of a situation depends upon pilot experience and evaluation of the alternatives. Doing a dumb thing successfully skews your judgment. You think you can get away with it again. The pilot's judgment of the risk is inductive. What ever induced a pilot to perform in such a manner? Success? The 'risk management' decision making process is often so flawed by presumptions of success that the accident was inevitable. The pilot is the leading cause of all preventable accidents. Prevention is a blend of capability, preparation and attitude.
Do not start a flight if you don't like the conditions. Your condition, the weather condition, and the aircraft condition. When the "what-ifs' gang up, stay on the ground. Those who have accidents continue to exceed their own limits and those of the aircraft. Poor judgment compounded with poor flying cause accidents.
An airplane that arrives at the ground in anything less than a completely controlled condition is likely to result in an accident. The terrain and obstacles will make the probability of injuries or death more or less likely. General aviation flying is still relatively more dangerous than commercial flying and driving a car per mile on average. The kicker here is that you can decide not to be an average pilot. You have the maximum choice as to when to fly. This power of choice is called risk management.
Had an instrument student who called me the morning of a planned flight to discuss the inclement weather. He mentioned that the weather was so bad that he would not consider flying but was willing considering my experience in such conditions. My reply was that I had not acquired any experience at all flying in icing and thunderstorm conditions, either. We didn't go. Prudence applies not only to weather but also to such things as inoperative equipment. Reference to FAR 91.213 may make the flight illegal even if the equipment is not essential to your flight.
Calculations of risk are a basic part of flying. Every control movement of an aircraft affects its performance. The calculation of risk is not a dominant thought process. If a pilot were to let risk considerations to become dominant there would be no flying. The pilot understands the inherent risk factors of flying just as so much of life is weighed at every decision point.
This calculation is not a dominant thought process. It is a gentle flow of awareness that every maneuver includes risk. The pilot makes a dispassionate analysis of what might lie ahead. The likelihood of a miscalculation or unexpected failure might be sufficient to move the pilot to undo what has been done. This facing of risk becomes habitual and instinctual.
Flying is very emotional but it is also serious. Knowing this the pilot is always careful when considering risk. Even death is viewed from the outside by the living. Pilots do not worry about the finality of death when it is our turn.
Students and pilots tend to use previous experience as a predictive guide. We tend to see what we expect to see instead of what we see. Once the situation recognized as a problem the pilot should:
1. Slow down performance by use of checklists
2. Communicate so as to obtain other opinions
3. Utilize resources in the cockpit
4. Get some training to eliminate the problem.
Know When to Say "NO"!!
As a given flight proceeds toward an accident, the space between a pilot's reserve capacity and the flight requirements becomes wider. The pilot can recognize the existence of this space by noting his own behavior. The longer a pilot has been awake is proportional to the likelihood of a procedural error. Fatigue, distracting noises, and emotional stress are factors that cause the growth of the accident sequence. Planning, practice, goal-oriented flying and "what if" guessing is preventative medicine. A pilot is not to expect a successful outcome without knowledgeable input. A competent pilot must process all available information in time to anticipate what is going to occur.
The pilot in command's primary responsibility is in saving life. Saving money, time, and aircraft must be totally secondary. Never 'kill' a running engine. Use the structure of the aircraft to ensure passenger survival. Let the insurer take care of the airplane. Proficient flying is measured by performance and not by how long you have been flying.
The Go/No Go Decision Is Always Variable
1. Always leave yourself an out.
2. Know where to go to find VFR and a VFR airport
3. Identify the weak links in any flight
4. Have pre-arranged alternate plans for "What if..."
5. Go with your survival instincts.
6. You are in trouble when you are out of options.
A pilot makes a decision by using all the information related to himself, the aircraft, airports, terrain, weather, loading, passengers and any other factors he may think of. The quality of this preflight planning will have an influence on decisions during the flight. A seemingly insignificant error in procedure or lapse in judgment can lead to disastrous results. Emergencies occur when pilots fail to develop a proper and thorough plan. It is this decision-making ability that assures pilots will never be replaced by computers. There is always an alternative to making the progression to an accident.
Knowledge and judgment are essentials. Study and know your aircraft. Know the who, how and why of maintenance. Trust if you must but... Don't rely on fuel gauges, manual figures, or guess-a-mates about fuel. Use a dip stick and remember that the FAR minimums are just that...minimums. With the new computerized weather the pilot is expected to be more knowledgeable that ever before. Don't be afraid to make the safe decision. I have found that the more experienced, knowledgeable, and capable a pilot is the more willing he is to seek and take advice from the locals at an airport and ATC.
The risk sequence can be broken. Accidents follow a predictable sequence of events. The last event before the accident is not the cause. It is the sequence of compromises leading to the last event that orchestrates an accident. The pilot must be aware of how the situation can be controlled by rejecting the compromise to safety that precedes acceptance of any of the events in the sequence. Failure to reject compromise at any point means that you have begun to negotiate with safety. Flight safety is non-negotiable.
The pilot can control his personal stress. See "Stress Management for Aviators" Compiled by Catherine Fish and available through AOPA and in the AOPA Handbook. The successful pilot knows much more than "requirements". When a difficult decision must be made, the more knowledge we have the better the outcome. When doubts begin to cloud your sense of knowledge, don't compromise with the safest decision.
Even good pilots can find themselves beyond their capabilities on a given day. A pilot's capabilities will vary from day to day and even during the day. They best time to discover your limits are on training flights when you have a back-up pilot who will tell you all is not right. Fatigue, stress, or the onset of illness will cause a decline in flying proficiency. With such problems you are not the pilot you think you are. On occasion, during training it may be of benefit to fly when all is not right with you, just to find out what reduced capacity can do. Your present situation must be met safely by decisions that do not compromise.
The better you recognize your own personality, the better you will be able to anticipate the creation of potential emergencies. How important is it to get there? Are you always on time? Who will be waiting? What will happen if you don't go? A pilot who makes decisions based solely on what others may think or want is an accident waiting to happen. A pilot who makes decisions based solely on what others may think or want is no longer the pilot in command.
The quality of a pilot's character is recorded by an identifiable life trend of information. The trend indicates the degree of care and responsibility likely to exist while flying. Personal habits such as smoking, school data, driving records, occupational achievement and social responsibility are all parts of the information trail. Item: There is a 1:1 relationship between a driving record and a flying record.
Since poor judgment is involved in so may accidents we should know that an abnormal situation is a breeding ground for poor decisions. An airplane can be flown into an abnormal situation faster than your decisions can get you out. The critical decision is one of "what is most important"? Risks are often best minimized by landing. Low speed turning flight close to the ground is not safe. Good judgment can be taught and learned. When in doubt, make the safe decision.
When things go wrong our attention becomes focused. Overly focused, to the elimination of the primary need for controlling the aircraft. When flying, control of the aircraft comes first. No situation should be allowed to affect control of the aircraft. An aircraft under control has incidents not accidents.
There have been a number of studies made that indicate a pilot's judgment is based on his past experience. If the training program had no exposure to weather, a pilot has no past experience. The training program should be geared to expose the student as much as possible and safe to minimums of visibility, ceilings, and winds. Thunderstorms are best covered remotely as by listening on ATC frequencies to hear the frantic calls for vectors and help over the radio.
Weather decisions are made when the pilot compares his present situation with any similar experiences he may have had. Without experience, there is no filter to help the pilot make a considered decision. Direct experience is far better. Your attitudes toward such things as authority, impulsive response, sense of invulnerability, 'macho' status, and resignation to fate are what will define your predisposition to a particular situation. How you will react varies day to day and moment to moment. The presence of stress internal, external, real or imagined will influence decisions. The final decision will be reflected in your experience and training. I believe that your experience and training in making decisions in adverse conditions should begin when you are a student pilot. I prefer to teach students when and where they can gain decision making experience.
The most important decisions a pilot can make will be made before the beginning of the flight. To justify not making a flight you must deal with the consequences ahead of time. It will always be better to ask the tough questions before leaving the ground. You have no guarantee that you will make the wisest choice even if you have prepared. You will never be blamed by making the safest choice even if it turns out wrong. Judgment includes the evaluation of risk. Risk is a most subjective area of decision making. All of life and the choices we make are how we try to guide our way through the maze of life's risks.
Danger is subjectively determined early in our lives. The perceptions stay with us as learned early on and continue to influence both our later perceptions and our reactions. We fly because we have evaluated the risks and judge the level of risk to be within our control. We accept the risk in exchange for the pleasure and utility of flying.
When we fly and exercise risk judgments we do this in a complex web of interrelationships. As PIC we take upon ourselves the risk decisions of our passengers without their say so. We coordinate our risk judgments with
those of ATC and accept or reject their clearances. Our just being in the air increases the risks of those flying in other planes as well as those cowering below. The fact is that, in the air or not, your very existence will have a risk effect on all the rest of the universe. Not much, but it is there.
We are so inured to the universality of risk that much of what we do is done without any qualms. We are controlling our risks all of the time and reducing them below our perceptive level. We have done this with our driving. But occasionally our risk perception ratchets up at speed and in traffic. Accidents occur as a result of unplanned risk. We are forced into a risk-taking situation that is beyond our skill or experience. This
can and does happen in flying.
In flying you are in a world full of options. Options give you choices. every choice branches into additional options inperpetuum (forever). If one of your choices increase your pulse, makes your palms sweat, you are
receiving a message from your subconscious that the situation is beyond your usual risk-acceptance level. It is time to back off and make a safer choice. Save the memory of your stressful choice and discuss it with your
flight instructor. Hopefully, a stressful flight situation can be talked through to a solution. If not, try selective flight instruction.
In any event, do not let a flying choice that stresses you to continue to stress you. You will tend to avoid the choice, avoid corrective solutions, and fly with the stress of the choice occurring again. The cycle will continue until it drives you away from flying. Don't let it happen. Face your flying weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
IFR requirement can be less than FAR requirements if weather conditions are expected at the destination.. The fuel for the flight to the alternate can be eliminated. An IFR flight in VFR conditions need only comply with VFR requirements.
One last region of personality that affects pilot competence is the willingness and ability to communicate. A miscommunication can be more dangerous than non-communication. Non-communication can be more dangerous than a miscommunication. If you don't know what to say about your situation, tell ATC just that. If you have misplaced your location, the airport or another airplane, let ATC know. Knowing there is such an aircraft around is helpful to both ATC and other aircraft on the frequency. There often is a long series of "links in a chain" leading to an accident. The greatest number of these weak links relate to communication. When in doubt, communicate.
A pilot who has a lack of or an excess of assertiveness can create an accident. The pilot must be able to look beyond the FARs, ATC, and the weather and take charge of a situation before it becomes unmanageable. The passive pilot who is waiting for "George" to resolve a problem is looking for trouble. The instructor must expose every student to opportunities to be assertive. On the other hand, the pilot whose assertiveness exceeds the level of competence must be reined in. The pilot who claims knowledge or ability that cannot be proven or demonstrated is trouble looking for a place to happen.
Aeronautical eavesdropping on all communications not meant for you specifically gives an overall heightened sense of the environment in which you operate. We are primarily responsible for ourselves and our aircraft but we must take partial responsibility for keeping an eye on each other.
The more aware you are of your situation the better will be your cockpit organization and management of procedures in handling communications. You will be ahead of the airplane and its operation. You will be ahead of the required radio procedures. With a planned procedure you are better able to adjust to the unexpected requirements of traffic or ATC. Situations can be identified, recognized and managed. You can achieve higher under stress but the more unusual and unfamiliar the stress situation the more quickly the breakpoint is reached.
Interviews of emergency survivors have three things in common:
1. Have a pre-decided plan for "what if "
Four engine out-emergencies:
1. During takeoff
2. During climb-out
3. During cruise flight
4. Airport vicinity
2. Know where you are and where to go
3. Fly the airplane
A survivor's checklist A to F
Have active Vref chart for best glide for weights
B. Best field
Practice holding the nose off as long as you can on landing.
C/C Carburetor heat check things
Memorize restart flow pattern. Check primer and magnetos.
Use your radio.
Move seats back and tighten belts and harness
Crack doors and cover panel
F. Final flaps and fuel
Get out with all you can carry
Rule of Thumb:
You have a minute in the air for every 1000' of altitude
You can expect to glide one mile for every 1000' of altitude.
A 360 will lose 1000' of altitude
Land into the wind with the rows.
Pilot capability fades quickly when hypoxia strikes. Likewise when panic is incurred. Initial concern can become fear and panic very quickly. The condition is no more recognizable than is hypoxia. The pilot becomes irrational and incapable of organized thought. It is not unusual for the pilot to be unable to make any option selection decisions involving following ATC instructions or even flying a heading.
There are some actions a pilot may take when there is an increasing sense of anxiety, however. You want to slow your heart rate and breathing rate. There are several options; it may be a simple mantra over and over, a simple muscle activity or fixating on the need for relaxing. Whatever works for you is the one to use. It is best that you decide now what you intend to do in a stressful emergency to activate your 'relaxation response and practice it a few times so you know ahead of time what you will do. Consider:
--Breath deeply, inhale through the nose and use stomach to exhale completely through the mouth.
--Do some stretching exercises with you shoulders by raising and lowering them.
--Recite some scan mantra over and over
--More exotic instruments will not make flying safer; only better pilot decision making can.
--Make your decision on the ground as to when/where/how the minimum conditions will end the flight
--If weather is responsible for 25% of all General Aviation Accidents; thirty percent of which result in fatalities,
weather must make takeoffs as well.
--General aviation is on the cutting edge of low technology.
--Decision-making has a few high-tech aids to utilize when making weather options.
--Pilot training and instructor example is best forum for teaching decision-making.
--The example of the instructor is proven to be the best instruction.
--Training is tending away from the hazardous attitude emphasis to avoidance.
--Individual recognition of hazardous attitudes is not easily attained.
--Instructional emphasis on awareness, information, skill and procedures move up.
--Awareness is a personal thing about health, stress, and relationships that can affect flying capability.
--Information must be processed to improve hazard anticipation, recognition and avoidance
--Skills required go beyond just flying into planning alternatives and selection of options.
--The better you fly the more time and energy your mind will have to expend on safety matters.
--The closer you get to a destination, the more difficult critical decisions become.
--Personal minimums should remain inviolate.
the Unfamiliar, Familiar
--Concern is proportional to lack of preparation.
--Avoidance of a situation only increases the concerns existing.
--Trying to fake your way through unfamiliarity is doomed to embarrassment.
--The best way to become familiar is by accompanying someone who is familiar.
--The second best way to become familiar is with a briefing by someone who is familiar.
--Visit FBOs and ATC facilities, read bulletin boards, ask questions and seek help from other pilots.
--The self-briefing requires reference materials acquired from the FAA, states, internet, guides, and AOPA.
--IFR into the unfamiliar is much easier than going VFR because everything is pre-ordained.
--The use of navaids other than GPS can be used but GPS has ushered in a new world of awareness.
--Even with GPS nothing quite beats having landmarks for getting both altitude and entry into airports.
--High on the scale of unfamiliarity is departing an unfamiliar airport. Especially if you want to get back.
--Long flights are likely to be a succession of the unfamiliar. Ask locals about next airports along route.
--Pre-plan every arrival descent, initial callup checkpoint, two mile checkpoint and destination on airport.
--IFR departures are often unique and unpublished. Ask around about expected clearances.
--Advise ATC of your awareness deficiency, ask for and take all the help you can get.
--Check NOTAMS, expect the unexpected and ask for vectors that allow you to plan the unplanned.
Attitude Makes the Difference
--The attitudes likely to get a pilot into difficulty are anti authoritarian, impassivity, invulnerability, machismo and resignation.
--Not considered is pride which properly applied gives confidence. A positive pilot attribute.
--Pride is negative if accompanied by fear of failure or insufficient accomplishment
--Pride that gives off dignity and a sense of self-esteem is a problem because it affects decision making.
--Excess pride can affect one's perception of events, interpretation of sequences and judgment.
--Strategy in planning a flight seems to last only until the flight starts.
--Once you are airborne all that you do become tactical.
--Tactics get me through or turned away or back.
--A better pre-takeoff strategy produces better tactics.
--Because a preflight strategy doesn't succeed every time, we must have the tactics (Options)
--80 percent of recent fatal takeoff accidents were not due to mechanical power problem.
--20 Percent caused by power were pilot preventable especially in twins.
Opinions on Risk
--Aversion is not a viable option.
--Risk is an integral part of being alive.
--The FAR issue is ever ongoing. (What was the first FAR?)
--The FARs are risk based upon the consequences of accidents.
--What goes wrong during a flight has numerous consequences.
--Pilots acquire and accumulate experience that extends knowledge
--The FARs determine the legality of plane, pilot and conditions for flight
--Regulations exist in reaction to events and their consequences (accidents)
--Experience and recency affects both the perception and acceptance of risk.
--A student should do SVFR and MVFR flights that require radar assistance.
--Emergency procedures are based upon prior identical/similar emergencies.
--Defined as the frequency of an outcome multiplied times the consequences.
--A student should be taught about high altitude airports and mountain flying.
--In terms of money and flying risk is frequency multiplied by consequences.
--Failure to accept the existence of risk is in and of itself the acceptance of risk.
--The weak link existing on both sides of the risk=consequence equation is human.
--Every flight should (must) include a knowledgeable recognition of associated risks.
--This acquisition and accumulation does not include improvement in risk evaluation.
--There is one area of risk and consequences where there is no measure of value; lives.
--In my opinion, the hope for improvement still lies in modification of flight instruction.
--Pilots require instruction, rather than experience, in risk probability and consequences.
--The FARs do not calculate the risks existing for the 'informed' decision to make the flight
--Flying risks exist in every facet of aviation. FARs, are a partial accumulation of such facets.
--Irresponsible instruction exposes a student to only the best of conditions altitudes and winds.
--Improvement is based upon questions specifically formulated to fit and modify the individual
--The perception and tolerance of risk is more misperception and ignorance of risk on adulthood.
--Every FAR is a governmental afterthought related to one or more pilot's risk taking experience.
--Risk decisions preferably require informed decisions regarding probabilities and consequences.
--We face a conundrum of risk based upon where aviation began, where it is and where it is going.
--We now fly with risk-informed decision-making that is not significantly better than 100 years ago.
--The weak link in the chain is still the pilot augmented by the training or lack of training received.
--The FAA/FAR ideal is zero tolerance of accidents, damage and loss of life. Look back; look ahead.
--Use of the POH in preflight, flight planning, and aircraft operation gives the pilot informed options.
--It is wrong for a student to become a private pilot who is never exposed to the outer limits of flying.
--Fuel FARs, when applied, allow an informed decision of risks of air contamination of the fuel tanks.
--Minimum equipment lists for a given flight allow an informed decision of risks existing in that area.
--Emergency procedures are based upon successful risk avoidance based upon damage costs and lives.
--A student should fly in winds, with instructor, upwards of 20 knots or better to determine skill limits.
--Risk is increased with every element of ignorance, neglect, evasion or memory lapse related to a flight.
--For things in flying that fail, a history of time between failures exists. This is an aid to risk assessment.
--In my own case, I have never flown into thunder storms or icing of any consequence. I do not intend to.
--The unawareness of childhood becoming the invincibility of youth are poor training for risk assessment.
--:Accident risk is raised with every link in a pilot's chain of ignorance, neglect, evasion or memory lapse.
--Initiating a flight with known deficiencies of any sort constitutes increased risk of unknown dimensions.
--I teach risk assessment on every flight. I present options and opportunity to make choices to the student.
--We've come a ways in risk assessment but the distance traveled so far is far less than what remains to go
--Unfortunately, risk assessment skills are formulated early on in life. There is no curriculum except living.
Helping your Thinking
---There is very little really new in airplanes, teaching flying, or learning to fly.
---The new you can bring into aviation is learning to observe things from a creative angle.
---About any one facet of flying there are numerous viewpoints, select the best and know the rest.
---Do not casually select from aviation choices. Accidents come from a series of wrong choices.
---Form the invaluable pattern of thinking and evaluating for yourself. Avoid passive suggestibility.
---Independent opinions and actions trump vagueness and incoherence every time.
---Instinct and reactive control never substitute for considered and appropriate control applications.
---Nothing reveals uncertainty in thought as well as the written word.
---Radio is one area where lack of thought becomes transparent in aviation.
---Talking airplane requires that you think in words with clarity and efficiency.
---Practice can get your mind to control your thoughts as they turn into words over the radio.
---Radio use is not the place to be passively permissive by letting ATC control you.
---You can take control of the radio by knowing where you are and what to say.
---By thinking deliberately as to what the situation requires you can learn to habitually speak deliberately.
---Radio is really thinking out loud using a structured format and standardized vocabulary.
---Good radio procedure requires organized and planned speech for your situation.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Ideas
---You are the master of your flying fate and all other fates through your ideas.
---You can appear unable to recall a name or idea only to have it rise out of your subconscious later.
---This common experience of spontaneous recollection of the forgotten works for everyone.
---Your ability to access your subconscious for needed information is dependent on your available supply.
---All the aviation reading you do is building the subconscious as it is the immediately recallable.
---Expect to recall nearly all you have read, heard or seen when given the proper subconscious trigger.
---Unfortunately, not all your see, hear or read applies to successfully learning to fly.
---You need experienced, skilled and helpful instruction to safely separate the good, bad and ugly ideas.
---Collecting information you enjoy and can use is not drudgery but an inspiration to do more.
---Interest and collection will not alone suffice, it is use and sharing that rewards the most.
---The use and sharing of ideas with other pilots and students helps other to achieve all they might.
---The best source of the necessary drive to exercise creative power is enjoyment.
---The beginning flying student must expect to reach both learning and enjoyment plateaus.
---This is the time where a vacation or other activity will revive the flagging interest and desire.
---Such release time should be incorporated into daily activities at frequent intervals as well.
--The ability to relax, meditate, and day-dream about your interest and enjoyment of flying is essential.
---Finding and making relaxing moments will reduce tenseness and concern related to flying problems.
---The mind can be trained for increased intensity of effort through strenuous exercise over problems.
---Search the internet, read old magazines as well as new and start conversations about your problems.
---There are few problems that cannot be resolved by concentrated thought. One is gravity.
Pressure to Fly
---Self-imposed challenge to your skills.
---Time constrains if you don’t go
---Peer pressure from others
---Weather situation changes
---Wishful thinking that legal is safe
Andrew On Weather Decisions
In the 4-seasons part of the world....yes, you should be thinking about these things BEFORE flying, not just WHILE flying.
Now I DO agree that knowing the "fact" that the dry-adiabatic-lapse-rate-is-3-degrees-Celsius-per-thousand-feet and being able to check off the correct multiple-choice-box on the FAA or Transport-Canada exam... is somewhat irrelevant if we do not take that fact and understand it within the context of the rest of our weather environment.
double the C
And I have this belief that some of our instructors are concentrating on ensuring we pass the exam by knowing these "facts", just as they did, without really understanding nor properly communicating the broader subject of aviation meteorology to us. Therefore, it is left to US to obtain that understanding somehow. We should not cancel our willingness, hell, our *obligation* to learn, once we walk out of that ground-school session.
As has been often recorded in these newsgroups, TAFs are often "wrong". Sometimes even METAR observations are less than perfect, especially from AUTO sites.
If we had a real good understanding of all aspects of meteorology, we could recognize the situations in which forecasting should be relatively "easy", and the situation is which it is more "difficult".... Therefore the situation in which we can take the TAF as gospel, and the situation in which it is likely to be suspect.
We would recognize not only the "actual" forecast for your area, but also the "potential" of what the other possibilities were. This works both ways.... we would recognize the potential for good weather when the TAF said no, and we would recognize the potential for bad weather when the TAF said go.
We would recognize whether the formation of an unexpected cloud bank is potentially dangerous or benign. We would recognize whether an unexpected clearing is real (and may be bad timing on the part of the TAF), or just a sucker-hole.
We would understand the "thinking behind the TAF" and we would be in a position to do our own "now-casting" if the underlying-conditions-to-that-thinking have changed.... because we would understand what "underlying conditions" to look for, and what their implications are.
Knowing more about the underlying meteorology of your current situation will not only help us avoid current BAD weather... it will help us understand when GOOD-weather-going-bad is a possibility, and it will help us to understand the difference between MARGINAL-weather-getting-good and marginal-weather- getting-bad.
I have a real fear that the new generation of in-cockpit tools to "upload-the-weather" will further deteriorate our desire to learn. If we are going to use those tools only to "avoid the bright spots on the map", then I am afraid that they will not increase our safety factor one bit.
I am certain (well okay: hopeful, anyway) that a very large segment of the pilot population was well taught, understand meteorology very well and are doing all they can to learn more and learn correctly. I do fear, however, that some of us were not only poorly taught, but have accepted that as the "norm" to be passed on to the next generation. And we now treat meteorology
Lapse rate can also tell you what type of icing you are likely to get. Unstable clouds are more likely to have clear ice (the bad kind), and stable clouds are likely to be rime ice.
A Civil War Lesson in Making Decisions
"Learn to say no," said Charles Spurgeon. "It will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin." One educator used to say that no society can last long unless it has a quorum of "unpurchasable people." These are people of principle who cannot be bought; people who have learned to say no. I believe that these so-called unpurchasable people are the truly contented and fulfilled souls around us.
In Whitney Seymour's book MAKING A DIFFERENCE (New York: William Morrow and Co., Inc., 1984), Arthur MacArthur, General Douglas MacArthur's father, told his son of such an unpurchasable man. This man was a Union general in charge of the occupied territory surrounding New Orleans toward the end of the American Civil War. He was pressed by local plantation owners to permit them to haul their cotton to the wharves in order for it to be sold for shipment to England. The general controlled all the wagons and horses, and his orders from high command in Washington were clear. He was not to let the cotton crop get to market.
Then one day, when Colonel Arthur MacArthur was visiting the general, two Southern ladies were ushered into the general's office, a "grande dame" and a beautiful young companion. The older lady came right to the point. She said that the landowners needed the temporary use of transport facilities to move their cotton. The North did not wish to force England into the war, she argued, and was allowing some merchant ships to slip through the blockade. Therefore, the Union would not be opposed to the sale of cotton for English textile mills. To show her gratitude she handed over $250,000 in gold certificates. "And if you need other inducements, this young lady will supply them," she added. They departed, leaving behind a distressed general holding the beautiful young woman's address.
The general immediately ordered MacArthur to dispatch this message to Washington: "TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have just been offered two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and the most beautiful woman I have ever seen to betray my trust. I am depositing the money with the Treasury of the United States, and request immediate relief from this command. They are getting close to my price."
What does this have to do with flying? Plenty! The pilot who lets the presence of personal benefits to interfere with his perception of safety, has been ‘purchased’.
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